By Dan Hust
LIVINGSTON MANOR Ramsay Adams and Randy Lewis love the Catskills as much as they love a good beer.
Now they’re looking to combine the two in a novel solution to the desire to “brand” the region: the Catskill Brewery.
“We were talking about what we needed here,” Adams recalls of a discussion that happened, appropriately enough, over a beer. “We need a brewery!”
Adams, a Lew Beach resident and head of Catskill Mountainkeeper, and Lewis, Adams’ neighbor and an expert in the food industry, found support from their friend, advertising executive Kirt Gunn.
“We have the perfect trinity,” says Adams, referring to the trio’s experience in beverages, marketing and preservation.
Their time and money has now been invested in less than an acre of land along Old Route 17 (County Route 178), right off Route 17’s Exit 96 in Livingston Manor, the former location of Pursuit of Happiness Realty.
Currently just vacant land, the property will host a 3,450-square-foot recycled-steel-and-wood structure by next spring, accompanied by a grain silo and room for about 20 cars.
Its name will be Catskill Brewery, with an aim to make it synonymous with both the hamlet and the county a must-visit destination.
“The craft brewery industry is growing in this country,” affirms Lewis, noting that while it produces just five percent of the beer consumed in America, the industry employs about 50 percent of beer company employees.
Besides, at one point the Catskills region was known for its hops, a key ingredient.
“We have a great brand the Catskills and a market that’s nine million strong,” Adams adds. “The market in New York is enormous and ready to be tapped.”
They’ve already brought on two industry consultants who are guiding them through the building and manufacturing process, with a goal to open in April.
In addition to those who construct the brewery, four full-time jobs will be created immediately, ultimately expanding to eight if the first five years go as hoped. Salaries will range from the $20,000s to the $50,000s, and the entry-level jobs will be available to low- to moderate-income residents.
Those employees will be engaged in crafting, bottling and distributing a variety of specialty and seasonal lagers and ales to the region’s restaurants and bars, made with locally sourced ingredients including local spring water.
They’ll also offer visitors tours of the facility, gifts emblazoned with the brewery’s logo, and tastes of the products, which can then be purchased and taken home.
It will not be a bar or brewpub, say the developers.
“It will be a high-end, consistent product,” promises Adams.
“That is, first and foremost, our focus,” agrees Lewis.
The bulk of their $950,000 investment is being privately financed, but the trio are looking to land $300,000 in grants from the state.
Yet even if that money doesn’t arrive, they plan on opening next year, then adding a bottling/canning line the year after.
They’ve already got the needed approvals from the Town of Rockland and Sullivan County, and by the summer, they hope to be in full swing.
Adams and Lewis are particularly grateful for the support of neighbors, town and county officials and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, and they hope to return the favor in the form of a new star attraction in Sullivan County.
“It’s a good building block,” notes Lewis.
Adds Adams, “It’s a rebranding.”